A game of strategy and tactics, India is actually home to the game of Chess, which was conceptualized during the Gupta Empire. But, in a country where cricket is only second to religion, Chess has no chance to attract the attention of mainstream media except for the occasional article.
While every school-going kid knows the name of Vishwanathan Anand, the two-time winner of the World Championship, they have barely even heard the names of Tania Sachdev, Dibyendu Barua, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, G.N. Gopal, Krishnan Sasikiran, Praveen Mahadeo Thipsay, Sandipan Chanda, R. B. Ramesh, Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, Parimarjan Negi, Abhijit Kunte and Humpy Koneru, who are but a few, on the list of Indian Grandmasters. Not only are these people widely respected in the world of Chess, they are also celebrated record-breakers.
This brings us to the ongoing 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad at Istanbul, Turkey. The biannual tournament is organized by Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation, the governing body of International chess competitions. The Olympiad commenced with the opening ceremony at the WOW Convention Center, Istanbul, Turkey on 27th August. The event this year witnessed a record-breaking turnout of 162 nations, and 1700 participants and captains.
With respect to India’s performance in the tournament, International Master Tania Sachdev has recorded her 7th victory in 8 games. Tania Sachdev, a 21-year-old born in Delhi holds the title of Grandmaster and was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2009. Woman Grandmaster Mary Ann Gomes also cruised through the tournament while Woman Grandmaster Eesha Karavade was defeated by Nguyen Thi Mai Hung. D. Harika, the 21-year-old, who holds titles of Grandmaster, International Master and Woman Grandmaster, is also climbing up the ladder in this competition. The Indian Women’s Team beat Estonia (3-1) to assume the fourth position in the Olympiad with 11 points after the seventh round of the chess Olympiad.
The Indian Men’s team drew against Serbia in their last match during the 8th round. Our pride amongst the men are the world’s second youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi, India’s second highest ranked Grand Master Krishnan Sasikaran, India’s youngest grandmaster P. Harikrishnan, Grandmaster Gopal Geetha Narayanan and the rising star, Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta.
Overall, the Indian team has had quite a good ride through the Olympiad. The women’s team have won matches against Macedonia, Australia, Armenia, Estonia, Germany and Vietnam, while losing just one match against China, and drawing against Serbia.
In the open category, the Indian team has won three matches (against Wales, Turkey and Slovenia) and have tied with five other countries. Overall, India ranks fourth in the women’s category and 15th in the open category after eight rounds.
Currently, Russia is at the top of the score table with 15 points. It is closely followed by China, Armenia, United States of America, Germany and Philippines with 13 points. In the women’s category, China stands first with 14 points, followed by Russia, France, India and Uzbekistan with 13 points each.
These results show that India is near the top of the table in the 40th World Chess Olympiad which is amazing, considering the fact that it is a sport that is more challenging, complex and tough than the general ball and bat fanfare. Maybe it is time for the Indian masses to turn their attention to some sports which are worth following and which they truly excel at.